September 2 2014

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5 posts tagged "Benjamin Millepied"

L.A. Gets A New Dance Company Of Its Own—And A Supportive A-List Fan Base To Match


One-company-town reputation aside, Los Angeles is the epicenter of a wide variety of artistic disciplines beyond film. Choreographer Benjamin Millepied (left)—at least as well known, if not better, in Hollywood-loving L.A. as the husband of Natalie Portman—aims to make one more at home with the launch of the L.A. Dance Project, a curatorial collective conceived by Millepied, composer Nico Muhly, art consultant Matthieu Humery, video producer Dimitri Chamblas, and producer Charles Fabius.

Following the sold-out premiere performance at Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, Millepied emphasized the influence of the city on his new venture. “The identity of Los Angeles is going to be very important to me,” he said. “It’s a city so rich in artists and culture that I would really like the dance company to embrace that and carry it throughout.” The debut program included Millepied’s own Moving Parts, a performance of William Forsythe’s Quintett, and the first showing of Merce Cunningham’s Winterbranch in 50 years. In the audience: locals like Rodarte’s Kate and Laura Mulleavy, who designed the costumes for the performance, as well as fans Robert Pattinson, Rashida Jones, and Dita Von Teese.

Portman, for her part, wearing a gown from Raf Simons’ first collection for Dior Haute Couture and jewels from Van Cleef & Arpels, was just as enthusiastic as her husband about the future of dance in Los Angeles. “It is always amazing to have things expressed that can’t be expressed in other mediums, and it makes you feel things that words or sound can’t make you feel,” she said. “We didn’t have a dance company and now we do. It’s amazing that Ben is bringing it here.”

Photo: Alex Berlinger/

Gap’s New Group


In the past, Gap has roped in top models ranging from Bar Refaeli to Caroline Trentini to Karmen Pedaru to Liu Wen to front its ad campaigns. But for Fall, the retailer took a different route, this time opting for a cast of up-and-coming musicians and dancers to be the faces of its “Shine” campaign.

In the images, the group, including Seth and Scott Avett from the Avett Brothers, San Francisco Ballet star Yuan Yuan Tan, and dancer Lil Buck (who just completed a project with Natalie Portman’s husband, Benjamin Millepied), sports the label’s Icon Redefined collection—read: updated Gap classics. “In the late eighties and early nineties, Gap is what all the cool girls were wearing,” singer-songwriter Nicki Bluhm, who is also in the campaign, told last night at an editor preview in New York. “Obviously, they still are.” Of the shoot, the modeling rookie added, “I’ve never modeled before and Yuan Yuan had her shoot just before mine. She was unbelievable, doing these insane high kicks and leaps across the room, and I thought, ‘Oh my God, what am I going to do that compares to this?’ ” Apparently, the jeans have a lot of stretch to them, but we don’t suggest trying Tan’s tricks at home. Here, get a first look at Tan and Bluhm in the newly unveiled shots.

Photos: Courtesy of Gap

Trading His Furs For Fouettés


With just hours before the curtain rises at the David H. Koch theater for the New York City Ballet’s Spring Gala tonight, J. Mendel’s Gilles Mendel is busy making the finishing touches on the costumes he’s designed for mater in chief Peter Martins’ new work, titled Mes Oiseaux. “I have been running back and forth to Lincoln Center with my scissors for two days now,” he told before heading back to the theater today. “It’s like doing a haircut—just a little more on this side and on that side until it’s perfect. It’s so surreal, here I am standing on the stage at Lincoln Center having the dancers of the New York City ballet do pirouettes for me so we can see that everything looks just right.”

It’s not the French designer’s first spin in the dance world. Back in 2010 he created the costumes for NYCB’s performance of Melissa Barak’s original ballet, Call Me Ben, which also provided inspiration for his Spring 2011 collection. “I like my clothes to be very precise because in fashion you want to look at them up close,” he said. “But from that experience, I learned to let go and stand 20 feet away from the dancer—things have to look good from a distance on the stage.”

For his second act, the designer brought the same femininity that’s linked to the J. Mendel aesthetic using tulle, stretch georgette, and muslin. But, he warns, “I think people will be quite surprised—it’s very graphic. The ballet is about three women and their relationship with a man. Peter and I wanted to give to the public a moment of discovery, so you wouldn’t know immediately that one woman is good, one is bad.” He designed a series of mostly-black costumes for the number, which only show the dancer’s true colors—figuratively and literally—when they move. An exclusive sketch of one of Mendel’s costumes is above.

Mes Oiseaux will be performed tonight alongside the Balanchine classic Symphony in C, with costumes by Marc Happel, and the latest work (titled Two Hearts) by former NYCB principal dancer and husband to Natalie Portman, Benjamin Millepied, with costumes by Rodarte. And check back tomorrow in People & Parties for our full report on the gala, hosted by honorary chairman Natalie Portman.

Illustration: Courtesy of J. Mendel

Jamie Wolf Takes Center Stage Again


“When I first joined New York City Ballet, Peter Martins told me, ‘I let you into this company, but it’s all up to you now,” dancer-turned-jewelry-designer Jamie Wolf tells “I will never forget that, and now I apply that to my line as well. When I first got my collection into Barneys, I knew I couldn’t just sit down and let that be enough.”

After ten years in the NYCB, the former dancer was able to translate the same drive, discipline, and elegance she gained from her ballet training into a new career as a jewelry designer. Wolf’s work and life, however, remains strongly intertwined with the dance world. (One of her biggest assignments to date was designing Natalie Portman’s engagement ring for her friend and former colleague, Benjamin Millepied, both of whom she appeared with in Black Swan). Today she debuts a new Signature Collection under her namesake label (celebrating its tenth anniversary this year), inspired by her tenure with the ballet company. “They are the pieces that were designed during the time I was still dancing for NYCB,” Wolf explains of the collection, which she launched in 2002 before leaving the ballet company in 2005, made up predominantly of earrings (one of her specialties). “Creating something beautiful, either with movement or with design, it’s the same.”

Meanwhile, Wolf is hard at work finishing the jewelry she has designed for NYCB’s Spring Gala show, the George Balanchine classic Symphony in C. Of her first role as a jewelry costumer for the newly modernized ballet, Wolf says, “It feels totally natural, because I did all four movements in Symphony in C over the ten years I danced there.” She adds, “I understand what it’s like to wear a headpiece or earrings, and I know that the weight and scale of the pieces is very important here.”

The Jamie Wolf Signature Collection, which retails for $550 to $29,000, is available today at

Photo: Courtesy of Jamie Wolf

Saving The Best For Last


Magnus Berger and Tenzin Wild always throw The Last Magazine‘s fashion week parties at the tail end of the week—the time, in other words, when designers and editors can see the light at the end of the tunnel and are especially eager to kick off their six-inch heels and let off some steam. That’s just what they did last night at the mag’s fourth-issue launch party at Pravda.

“I first came to New York in 1998, and one of the first places I went to was Pravda,” Berger explained. “It’s part of a different era but it feels new, and a lot of my friends had never been here. Our parties are not really about doing anything big or fancy. We just want to have fun.” He doth protest too much. “Magnus always throws the best parties,” said model Julia Stegner, surveying the tiny, tightly packed dance floor. Fueled by male models-cum-DJs James Penfold and Simon Bolzoni, Daria Werbowy and Julia Restoin-Roitfeld held court there for quite some time. Kate Bosworth took a few spins before retreating to a corner booth. New York City Ballet principal Benjamin Millepied probably could have taught all in attendance a thing or two, but he and his date, Natalie Portman, stayed on the sidelines.

“You need lots of alcohol,” Stegner said of what makes a great fashion week party, before adding, “I’m not partaking.” Turns out Stegner was leaving for Italy early in the morning for work (“It’s not so good for the face”). But the work was done for attendees Richard Chai, Phillip Lim, Joseph Altuzarra, and Alexander Wang. The latter (pictured with Stegner at another fashion week event)—who knows a thing or two about throwing raucous after-parties—may have sat this season out, but he has something up his chenille sleeve. “We’re saving all of our ammunition for September. You can always do bigger and better things in September.”

Photo: Josephine Solimene and Sherly Rabbani